"Blest are the sorrowing; they shall be consoled." (Mt. 5:4)
ORDER OF CHRISTIAN FUNERALS The Church has endeavored in its revisions of the liturgy to be sensitive to God's presence with people in their times of desperation and suffering, as well as in their hopes and dreams for new life. The rite itself has changed as recently as 21985 with the new Order of Christian Funerals. We celebrate the funeral rites to offer worship, praise and thanksgiving to God for the gift of a life which has now been returned to God.
A CELEBRATION IN THREE STATIONS The Christian funeral is comprised of three ritual moments. The Vigil is normally the first gathering of the community after the death of a Christian. at the Vigil the Christian community keeps watch with the family in prayer to the God of mercy and finds strength in Christ's presence. The active participation of all present helps them express their consolation, therefore the structure of the Vigil is such that everyone, including our friends and family who are not member of our faith, can pray together through scripture and song. The vigil Liturgy , an official rite of the church, should not be excluded in favor of a private devotion such as the recitation of the rosary. When many of the mourners are not Catholic, the rosary is most inappropriate as it excludes them. It is possible to incorporate the rosary (or a portion of it) into the vigil Liturgy where it is truly appropriate to the mourners, or it may be recited privately bay any who so desire. The vigil is celebrated the evening prior to the Funeral Liturgy. As a liturgical rite of its own, the Vigil Liturgy is not to be attached to or celebrated immediately before the Funeral liturgy. Nor is the rosary to be recited by all just prior to the funeral Liturgy. The Funeral Liturgy is the principal liturgical celebration of the Church for the deceased. it can take the form of the "Funeral Mass" or the "Funeral Liturgy outside Mass". Our Lady of Fatima Church will do its best to accommodate your wishes regarding the Vigil and the Funeral Liturgy at the church. The Rite of Committal is the final ritual moment of the Church's Christian Funeral. "Whenever possible, the rite of committal is to be celebrated at the site of committal, that is, beside the open grave or place of internment, rather than at the cemetery chapel." (OCF, 204)
ROLE OF MUSIC As with any liturgical celebration, music is an integral part of all the funeral rites. "Music allows the community to express convictions and feelings that words alone may fail to convey. it has the power to console and uplift the mourners and to strengthen the unity of the assembly in faith and love. The texts of the songs chosen for a particular celebration should express the paschal mystery of the Lord's suffering, death, and triumph over death, and should be related to the readings form Scriptures." (OCF 30) The ministry provided by competent cantors, choirs, and instrumentalists can "assist the assembly in full participation in singing the songs, responses, and acclamation" of the funeral rites. (OCF 32) While the immediate family of the deceased may not be able to join in song, the singing of the assembly will help to console and strengthen them.
ROLE OF THE CHURCH COMMUNITY In addition to consoling mourners with words of faith and support and acts of kindness, the community's "ministry of consolation is expressed in its active participation in the celebration of the funeral rites." (OCF 11) Therefore every effort should be made to invite their full participation in sung responses, hymns and prayers. In the rites, "laymen and laywomen may serve as readers, ushers, ministers of the Eucharist." Family members or friends may sometimes perform these responsibilities.
PLANNING THE DETAILS The church understands that this is a difficult time for the loved ones of the deceased. Our parish will provide trained people to assist you. Please take advantage of this service by informing the Parish office that you would like to be contacted. someone will arrange to meet with you and assist you in planning the Vigil, the Funeral mass and the rite of Committal for your loved one. Our lady of Fatima Church provides instrumentalists and cantors for all funeral rites. The stipend for the musicians is included in the cost charged by the Mortuary.
LITURGICAL ENVIRONMENT The liturgical seasons (Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Times) set the mood and the atmosphere for the church decor. "The funeral rites should be celebrated in an atmosphere of simple beauty, in a setting that encourages participation." (OCF 24) Liturgical symbols and signs such as the Easter candle, holy water, incense, and the pall placed over the coffin in church all affirm our Christian belief and hope in the Paschal mystery. you may personalize the environment with some simple symbols by using photographs, a Book of Gospels or a Bible, or a cross. Fresh flowers, used in moderation, can enhance the setting of the funeral rites. Only Christian symbols may rest on or be placed near the coffin during the funeral rites. One of our parish representatives can guide you with appropriateness, choice and placement of such symbols.
"I AM the RESURRECTION and the LIFE. All who believe in ME shall have ETERNAL LIFE." John 11:25-26
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